The Best Modern Jazz Music to Listen to Right Now

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

Looking for the best modern jazz music to listen to right now? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll recommend 10 of the best albums released in the past 5 years.

The Best Jazz of 2018

The best jazz albums of 2018 offer a stunning range of sounds, styles, and stories. From the bracing political statements of Makaya McCraven and Ambrose Akinmusire to the intimate explorations of personal identity by Brad Mehldau and Vijay Iyer, these are the records that moved us this year.

Esperanza Spalding, “12 Little Spells”

One of the most boundary-pushing bassists and vocalists in all of jazz, Esperanza Spalding releases her fourth solo album, 12 Little Spells, on Concord Jazz. Spalding expands her sonic palette on the record, incorporating electronics and looping pedals into her already adventurous instrumental arsenal. The result is an intoxicating blend of genres — jazz, R&B, funk, pop — that is both timeless and of the moment.

Kamasi Washington, “Heaven and Earth”

Kamasi Washington’s “Heaven and Earth” is one of the best albums of 2018. It is a double album that is divided into two parts, “The Earth” and “The Heavens”. The album features Washington’s ten-piece band, The Next Step, and includes appearances by singers Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible, as well as rapper Snoop Dogg.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, “The Emancipation Procrastination”

There’s a good chance you slept on this one. Scott’s double album – his “sonic manifesto” – dropped in March with little fanfare, but it’s easily one of the best, most progressive and thought-provoking records of the year, in any genre. It’s a brazen mix of jazz, hip-hop, electronica and more, all woven together with stunning virtuosity, soul and Afrocentric fire by one of the most boundary-pushing artists in music today.

The Best Jazz of 2017

Vijay Iyer Sextet, “Far From Over”

Iyer has quickly become one of the most consistently interesting and innovative composers in jazz, and his work with this sextet—alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Stephan Crump, and drummer Marcus Gilmore—is among his very best. Full of urgent energy, subtlety, and grace, “Far From Over” is a triumph of group interplay, melodic invention, and rhythmic dynamism.

Trombone Shorty, “Parking Lot Symphony”

New Orleans native Troy Andrews, better known by his stage name Trombone Shorty, returns with his fifth studio album Parking Lot Symphony. The album was recorded at the legendary Esplanade Studios in New Orleans and features a mix of horns, drums, guitars, and keyboards that create a unique soundscape. While Trombone Shorty is best known for his work in the brass band tradition, this album finds him branching out into new territory with songs like “Loser” and “No Good Time.” Parking Lot Symphony is an enjoyable album that showcases Trombone Shorty’s versatility as a musician.

Ambrose Akinmusire, “A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard”

If you’re looking for a great jazz album to get lost in, look no further than Ambrose Akinmusire’s A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard. This record is a perfect example of modern jazz at its best, featuring Akinmusire’s exceptional trumpet playing front and center. The album was recorded live at New York’s famed Village Vanguard club, and the energy of the performance comes through loud and clear. If you’re a fan of jazz, or just looking for something new to check out, this album is well worth your time.

The Best Jazz of 2016

If you’re a fan of Jazz music, you’re in for a treat. 2016 was a great year for Jazz music, with a lot of new and innovative sounds coming out of the genre. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best Jazz music of 2016.

Gregory Porter, “Take Me to the Alley”

Porter is the classic example of a jazz artist who’s difficult to define. His music incorporates elements of gospel, soul, and even pop, but it always feels firmly grounded in the jazz tradition. On “Take Me to the Alley,” the title track from his 2016 album, Porter delivers one of his most quintessentially jazz performances, drawing on all of his influences to create a beautiful and moving piece of music.

Robert Glasper Experiment, “ArtScience”

On their seventh album, ArtScience, the Robert Glasper Experiment – a genre-defying and boundary-pushing collective led by pianist and producer Robert Glasper – continue to explore and expand the possibilities of modern jazz.

Fusing together elements of hip hop, R&B, soul, and pop with traditional jazz sensibilities, the band has created an album that is both fresh and exciting. With features from some of today’s most popular artists – including Kendrick Lamar, Mos Def, Bilal, Snoop Dogg, and many others – ArtScience is an album that is sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners.

If you’re looking for something new and different in the world of jazz, this is definitely an album you’ll want to check out.

Makaya McCraven, “In the Moment”

Makaya McCraven is a drummer, producer, and composer based in Chicago. His new album, In the Moment, is a double LP featuring over 50 musicians recorded live in various locations around the city. The result is a complex, soulful exploration of jazz that feels both old and new.

McCraven grew up playing jazz and hip-hop, and his eclectic taste is evident on In the Moment. The album features moments of pure dopeness (the head-nodding groove of “Youngblood”), introspection (the delicate piano melody of “Spaces”), and even humor (the throwback sound of “Distance”). But despite its disparate influences, In the Moment hangs together effortlessly. It’s an essential listen for any fan of modern jazz.

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